The other shipyards on the River Geeste
During the 19th century, there were a number of yards along the River Geeste. Working at scattered locations, the character of these more modest firms was distinctively pre-industrial.
The most famous firms were:
Johann Lange: The notable shipwright Johann Lange (1775-1844) ran a successful yard at Vegesack near Bremen as from 1805 It was a predecessor of the later Bremer Vulkan shipyard. Besides this enterprise, Lange leased premises on the Bremerhaven bank of the River Geeste in 1833. There, repairs of larger sailing vessels were undertaken. From 1837 to 1840, a dry dock was constructed.
Lange's son, Carl Lange (1819-1887), continued his father's business, but started shipbuilding activities after 1850 for some time and had a second dry dock built after 1860. Later, the yard focused on ship repair again, but ceased to operate under its own name in 1895, when the yard was sold to the shipyard owner Georg Seebeck.
Friedrich Wilhelm Wencke: In 1833, the Bremen-born ship's carpenter Friedrich Wilhelm Wencke (1806-1859) leased premises on the Bremerhaven bank of the River Geeste. A large number of wooden seagoing vessels were built there, for which the yard became quite famous. The dry dock (ca. 1860) is still preserved today. After Wencke's death, his son-in-law took over the firm. But it had to wind up in 1900 because the transition to modern steel shipbuilding failed, despite some notable new ships such as the first German steam trawler SAGITTA of 1885.
Cornelius Janssen Cornelius: The boat builder Cornelius Janssen Cornelius (1776-1842) came from Neuharlingersiel in East Frisia and settled on the right bank of the River Geeste in 1821 where he founded the oldest shipyard in Bremerhaven today. Small boats and barges were manufactured, and a pub was also maintained. Running the latter was more attractive for the founder’s son, so boatbuilding ceased at this site soon after 1842.
Schau & Oltmanns: The shipwright Diedrich Bernhard Oltmanns (1831-1891) from Brake (halfway between Bremen and Bremerhaven) and the former naval officer Hans Sonne Schau (1821-1893) acquired a site on the Geestemünde side of the river in 1852. There, a dry dock was constructed from 1853 to 1856. This dock brought heavy financial losses for the yard, but a number of sailing vessels, some of them for Hamburg account, were built there. But the transition from wooden to industrial iron shipbuilding also failed here, so the company wound up in 1891. The yard was sold to the shipyard owner Georg Seebeck.
Hermann Friedrich Ulrichs: The Bremen-born shipwright Hermann Friedrich Ulrichs (1809-1865) had established a well-running shipyard at Vegesack near Bremen, which later became one of the predecessors of the Bremer Vulkan yard. In 1850, he opened a subsidiary on the Bremerhaven bank of the River Geeste. There he concentrated on ship repairs but some some new vessels were also constructed. A dry dock was built from 1864 to 1865. Operation continued also after Ulrich's death. In contrast with the Vegesack yard, the transition to modern iron shipbuilding failed at Bremerhaven due to lack of capital. In 1895, the site was sold to the shipyard owner Georg Seebeck.
Maps of shipyard sites on the Geeste around 1845
Maps of shipyard sites on the Geeste around 1872